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On Wikipedia, Allen West's Heroism Unsullied

They revere him because he says what most Republican candidates think but don't say. Yet the tea partiers and right wingers who support Allen West's bid for Congress apparently feel the need to protect him from his boldest, most controversial statements and to recast the 2003 incident that led to West's departure from the U.S. Army.

That's evident from reading the revisions that have been made this past month to West's Wikipedia page. The page contains no mention of West's claims that Islam is not a religion but an "ideology" akin to Nazism. It doesn't mention his dread for the "Coexist" bumper sticker, even though that became a national news story.

And the page has not been updated to include the blooming scandal over West's personal finances.

But mostly, it appears that West's supporters are eager to prove that no matter how unceremonious his exit from the U.S. Army, West was right to use death threats and to fire his pistol over the head of an Iraqi detainee he believed to have information about an assassination plot.

On August 12, the section on that interrogation was edited to remove a line about how in 2004, West said to a New York Times, "It's possible that I was wrong about Mr. Hamoodi" -- the name of the Iraqi policeman he interrogated.

The user who made that edit is identifiable only by an IP address. The following day, August 13, that same user removed a link to the New York Times article that contains that quote from West and Hamoodi's claims of innocence. The user then removed a link to a Boston Globe story about the interrogation and West's giving his resignation. 

The military investigation of that interrogation found that West had supervised soldiers while they beat the Iraqi detainee -- but that detail was also scrubbed from the Wikipedia page. The same user added a line about how West "fired his pistol over the head of the detainee and was able to obtain the necessary information to thwart the attacks." But that too is slightly at odds with the findings of military investigators who said that the rumor was of a single attack -- and that the rumored attack was targeting West specifically.

Given West's involvement in the interrogation, this is an important detail. But in the next edit, the same user distorts the record a bit more, adding that West prevented "planned attacks on his soldiers." In a campaign video he released in August, West labored to establish that he wasn't just looking out for himself -- rather, he was concerned purely for the safety of his soldiers.

On August 24, a different user, who was clearly not interested in sparing West from bad publicity, removed that heroic version and added specific details from the interrogation -- how West walked into the room with a gun, then threatened to kill the detainee. It includes the detail of the soldiers beating the Iraqi and Hamoodi's claim to the Times that he made something up to save his life. Twenty-four hours later, the entry was edited back to the heroic version.

I've left a message with the user linked to the majority of the revisions favorable to West. I'll update if I hear back.

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Thomas Francis

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